As previously featured in Enterprise IoT Insights

Industrial organizations are starting to make cautious steps towards XaaS offerings for their operational computing. However, there is some apprehension preventing many from springing into action. Organizations must ask themselves: How will it impact the way they work? How will it change their budgeting process? change is not always viewed as a good thing within the OT world. For those industrial organizations looking at XaaS, there are some significant considerations.

First, the OT infrastructure may not be ready for XaaS. Over in the data center, connectivity and tight security are usually well established, so linking up with SaaS offerings is straightforward. But within the OT world, this may not be the case. Upgrading the network infrastructure to enable secure, high-performance connectivity to XaaS services may include installing gateways and/or specialized software, conceivably representing substantial investment of time and money.

Another concern is the ongoing investment required for XaaS. A common example is an organization collecting data at the operational edge looking to push it up to cloud to perform analytics. However, getting the most from such analytics requires specialized skill sets that many OT organizations do not have. Moreover, depending on the size of their OT infrastructure, the volume of data generated can be huge, requiring lots of costly “leased” capacity.

So, when does XaaS makes sense for industrial organizations? In selecting workloads for uploading to the cloud, consider the following:

  • Applications vs. infrastructure
  • Support requirements
  • Data volume and criticality

The XaaS question is not binary. Making conscious choices about what can be outsourced and what is best kept in-house may lead to a hybrid model — with some computing happening at the edge and some in the cloud — that offers the best of both worlds.